Mapping Your Career in Law: Akshay Verma’s Blueprint for Success

Episode summary

Introduction – 00:00

  • Akshay Verma’s career journey from being an attorney to leading legal operations at Meta and Coinbase.

Navigating career transitions in law: 1:11

  • Akshay's journey from environmental law to legal operations.
  • The value of exploring different areas of law, embracing new opportunities, and leveraging one's skills to thrive in a dynamic and evolving legal landscape.

Going in-house and becoming a business counsel: 4:22

  • Providing fractional legal services and going in-house.
  • Taking a different direction of growth in Legal and embracing the role of a business counsel.
  • Shifting from solely practicing law to a more business-oriented approach.

The evolution of the legal ops role: 9:02

  • A shift in the legal industry towards Legal Ops roles, with Heads of Legal Ops emerging as key contacts within legal departments.
  • The increasing prominence of Legal Ops as a distinct function within Legal.
  • Akshay’s transition to legal operations.

Heading legal operations at Meta & Coinbase: 11:35

  • How Akshay became involved with the legal ops team at Facebook when Cambridge Analytica came into the scene.
  • Heading legal ops at Meta and witnessing the growth of the legal team from around 800 to 2000. 
  • Joining Coinbase to implement strategies and lessons learned from his time at Meta.

Leveraging job interviews to lay down the roadmap: 13:40

  • What differentiates a world-class legal operations team from the rest?
  • Turning expectations and discussions from your job interview at a company into a roadmap for leadership.
  • The importance of strategic planning and foresight in legal operations.

Akshay’s background in teaching at law school: 15:57

  • Teaching a course to help students to find a fulfilling and rewarding career in law.
  • Designing a course about the practical application of environmental law, which included experiential learning and guest speakers.
  • How Akshay started teaching in law school.

Critical lawyering skills that law school doesn’t teach: 18:05

  • Insights from Akshay’s class on Critical Lawyering Skills at Santa Clara University School of Law.
  • Teaching important life skills and professional skills that law schools did not traditionally teach.
  • Setting students up for success through networking, laying down the legal landscape, and addressing mental health and substance abuse issues in the profession.

Shaping careers by aligning values, interests, and skills: 20:33

  • The role of values in shaping careers and career paths.
  • Bridging the gap between unrealistic expectations and reality through education.
  • Have a targeted approach in filtering and vetting potential opportunities based on personal values.
  • Understand one’s values, interests, and skill sets to align them and find meaningful employment.

What companies and clients really want from lawyers: 25:42

  • The importance of relationships and mentorship.
  • The top qualities desired by employers and clients in lawyers indicate that many of these qualities, such as relationship building and values alignment, are not explicitly taught in law school.
  • The need for a broader education.

Attracting top legal talent amid changing priorities: 29:16

  • Greater emphasis on mental wellness, work-life balance, and personal priorities.
  • Compensation and financial success are no longer the sole driving factors.
  • A shift in priorities towards seeking more control over their work and personal lives.
  • Values such as family, time, and happiness have gained prominence over traditional markers of success and monetary gains among law students.

How legal and legal ops are changing: 31:34

  • The future of the legal and legal ops functions.
  • Legal operations and the legal profession are poised for significant changes driven by AI and technology.
  • The focus shifts towards closer alignment with business priorities.
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Tyler Finn
Head of Community & Growth, SpotDraft
Akshay Verma
Head of Legal Operations, Coinbase

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